Compulsory Competent Fire Safety Practitioner Registration Now in Force for Annual Fire Safety Statements

The NSW Government has introduced reforms to Fire Safety to strengthen the state’s building regulation and certification systems.

On July 1st, 2020, the Secretary of the NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation (now integrated under the Department of Customer Service) formally approved the Fire Protection Accreditation Scheme (FPAS) under section 59 of the Building and Development Certifiers Act 2018, mandating the scheme throughout New South Wales.

This follows 2019 discussions with practitioners and industry to determine criteria for accreditation with the Fire Protection Agency of Australia (FPAA) and in discerning which practitioners are eligible to perform the “regulated work” of conducting assessments of Fire Safety Measures recorded on a building’s Annual Fire Safety Statement (AFSS).

This regulatory change comes as part of greater building industry reforms, as part of the Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020, which passed in early June this year.

Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson said “We have now strengthened the regulation of building certifiers, improving their accountability and independence and providing greater protections for consumers.”

What does the new framework mean?

Previously, building owners were required to determine who is a competent Fire Safety Practitioner for the assessment of Essential Fire Safety Measures. Under the new regulations, only individuals who have demonstrated their competence by achieving the appropriate accreditation with the FPAA can undertake assessment of the statutory Fire Safety Measures recorded on a building’s AFSS.

As stated on the NSW Government website:

“Under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 (EP&A Regulation), CFSPs must:

  • endorse plans and specifications for relevant fire safety systems
  • endorse fire safety performance solution reports
  • endorse exemptions to the Building Code of Australia for minor works to existing fire safety systems
  • assess ongoing performance of fire safety systems for annual fire safety statements.”

What is the process to becoming a Competent Fire Safety Practitioner / Accredited practitioner (Fire Safety)?

The Fire Safety Assessment (FSA) class of FPAS accreditation accredits individuals who undertake assessment of the performance capability of fire safety measures (FSMs) for the purpose of informing an annual or supplementary Fire Safety Statement.

This class of accreditation has been designed to address the requirements for certain fire protection work in New South Wales, to be carried out by a ‘competent fire safety practitioner’ under the state’s 2017 fire safety reforms. Once registered with the FPAA, an individual is deemed an ‘Accredited practitioner (fire safety)’ under the Building and Development Certifiers Act 2018 and can perform “regulated work”.

To gain FSA accreditation, individuals must demonstrate a level of required knowledge, skill and experience to perform the fire safety assessor role, must hold appropriate insurance, and must agree to and abide by the FPAA Australia Code of Professional Conduct.

Where can I find a Certified Practitioner?

Hendry have a team of certified Fire Safety Engineers and practitioners in New South Wales, able to conduct inspections and provide the necessary information regarding compliance and assessment for all Building Fire Safety Measures.

Contact Kingsley Lunt, Manager for Building Surveying/Safety Measures at Kingsley.Lunt@hendry.com.au or call 0419 306 440 to start the discussion and arrange your Fire Safety Inspection.